WARNING: This post contains spoilers about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you have not seen it and don’t want anything given away then please do not read any further. For a spoiler-free review, read a great one over on Flickering Myth (although I have to completely disagree with Luke’s opinion of Domhnall Gleeson!). You may find my thoughts a little nerdy and please be advised that this is not a review, these are just my thoughts on a situation.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when I watch a film that is either brilliantly done or really resonates, I can’t get it out of my head for days. You catch yourself thinking about it regularly and re-living specific moments in your head. Well that is what has happened for me with the new Star Wars film. I don’t usually write my thoughts down on matters like this. But I had to with this one.
Way back in 1980, I was 9, I can remember really wanting to see The Empire Strikes Back at the cinema but, for one reason or another, my parents never got round to taking us. Instead, that summer, I decided to read the book. I got so engrossed in it that I can remember being on holiday on the Isle of Wight and reading it as we walked along the sea front!
I ruddy loved that book. The love story between Han and Leia really struck a chord with me. It was the first piece of romance that I adored and I read the piece where they first kissed over and over again. I really enjoyed watching their story develop through Return of the Jedi and how happy they were at the end. It all worked so well.
But, I guess like many things in life, time can make or break a situation. Roll on 35 years to the new Star Wars film. We went to see it on Friday evening and it has stayed with me ever since. There is one particular part which I keep playing over and over in my head and I can’t seem get away from it. I will come to that shortly.
Firstly, I have to say that I loved the film. I am not sure if it is because it is so similar…but not…but is…to A New Hope or whether it meant that I could sit down and re-live so much of my childhood all over again. The film made me feel very nostalgic. It made me realise just how much time had passed and how I longed to be a kid all over again. In fact, this is one of the things that is now affecting me along with ‘that’ moment.
As I saw Han and Chewie walk onto the Millenium Falcon and Han say those words ‘Chewie, we’re home’. That was it for me. I was happy. Those characters that I knew so well were back in my life and, even though time had passed, everything felt so familiar. It took me back to the days of playing Leia in the school playground whilst a boy called Richard Vaughan would play Luke and come and rescue me.
As the story unfolded, I was a little disheartened to see that Leia and Han were not together. But it wasn’t a break up that had gone bad, more of one that had gone sad. It was clear to me that because their son, Kylo ‘Ben Solo’ Ren had turned to the dark side, Han had done his usual thing of running away from trouble. Going back to his old smuggling ways. The first exchange Leia and Han had in the film (if you ignore the predictable interruption from C3-PO – which I was fine with!) was a real moment for me. One that I was hopeful for in seeing them back together.
As the film moved on, Han agreed to take Finn back to the Starkiller Base (the Death Star on steroids!), because, being a former stormtrooper, he knew it’s weaknesses. At that point Leia and Han had another exchange. It was a more tender moment and Leia asked Han to bring their son home.
I had no clue what was going to happen. Social media and other sites have kept it under wraps so well and I hope that it stays this way.
As they entered the area of the base to plant their detonators, Han told Chewie to take upstairs whilst he took down. Han then saw his son walking across the bridge and he called out ‘Ben’ to his son. What happened next was Han trying to convince him to come home. Kylo Ren asked his father to help him, at which point he held out his lightsaber and Han tried to take it from him. As he did, Ren lit up the saber and pierced it right through the middle of Han. I literally brought my hand up to my mouth and gasped. I couldn’t believe it. The tears started and they just wouldn’t stop for the rest of the film. If JJ Abrams wanted a reaction then he definitely got one out of me. Chewie cried out for his old friend and he, Finn and Rey all started to fire on the stormtroopers then, the film cut to Leia who obviously knew something had happened and she sank to her knees. It was so well done. I was sitting there as Han had the lightsaber through his middle, hoping against hope that he would be OK. Ever the optimist!
I spent the rest of that film sporadically crying. I was utterly gutted. My hero from these films was gone. And, even now, 2 days on I am still playing it over in my mind.
But, what they did do with this scene in particular, was to play it out in a similar way to the one that plays out for Obi-Wan Kenobi ‘s death in the first film, with the old master confronting his student – in this case replace those words with father and son – for the last time, and giving over to the inevitable rather than fighting. All while his new apprentice looks on, unable to help – for the first film this was Luke, and in this it was Rey. It really helped me to view it that way.
The main redeeming factor for me though was seeing Luke turn up at the end. And, despite the fact that he had no lines, his presence was so much bigger than it had ever been before.
Bring on Part 8!